Rise in lonely children calling ChildLine
Press Releases - 16 March 2010
The number of lonely children counselled by ChildLine has risen by 60 per cent in five years an NSPCC report reveals today (16 March 2010).
Last year nearly 10,000 calls (1) were made to ChildLine, equal to one every hour, from children saying they felt lonely. Almost one in ten callers said they had never told anyone before.
There were two girls for every boy who called and almost one in six calls was from a child aged 11 or younger.
Head of ChildLine, Sue Minto said: "Loneliness has always been a part of some children's lives but it is deeply worrying that more children are contacting us about this.
"Some of the children who contact ChildLine are lonely because their parents are rowing or divorcing. Others are lonely because someone they love has died. Yet others say they are being bullied or have no friends. Nearly one in ten lonely children report being abused or neglected.
"Lonely children often feel worthless and lack self-confidence and some struggle to cope. Calls to ChildLine show that in the worst cases children became so desperate that they self-harm or even contemplate suicide. The sadness of their stories can be heartbreaking."
Eight year old Jessica (2) told ChildLine: "My mum died three weeks ago and I really missed her today, because I've broken my arm and want my mum to hold my hand. I feel lonely."
Another caller, 14 year old Jade (2) had been abused and said: "I have problems at home. My mum doesn't listen to me. My uncle raped me when I was 10. My mum still sees him and talks to him. I feel invisible. I feel unloved and like no-one cares."
Sue Minto continued: "Ideally, every child would have someone in their life that they trust and can confide in. When this is not the case ChildLine is always there to listen and support them on 0800 1111." The NSPCC's advice for parents who are concerned that their child is withdrawn and may be feeling lonely is:
- Take your child's feeling seriously; it could be a sign that something else is wrong.
- Let your child know they can always come to you with their problems.
- Everyone needs privacy and space, but children also need love, attention and to interact with people.
- Set aside times to hear about your child's day, their friends and any problems.
- Make sure your child isn't feeling isolated within the family and there are opportunities to chat and socialise together.
- Remind them that it is natural for friendships come and go and that they will make new friends.
- If your child doesn't have friends at school provide opportunities for them to make friends through shared interests such as sport and clubs.
- They may spend more time with friends than with family in their teenage years but let them know you are still there for them if they need you.
- Loneliness can affect a child's wellbeing and lead to more serious problems. If you are concerned about your child speak to your GP. Or you can encourage your child to call ChildLine on freephone 0800 1111 or visit www.childline.org.uk.
Media office on 020 7825 2602 out of hours mobile 07976 206 625.
Regional Communications Offices:
North: 0113 229 9343. Out of hours: 07929 201096
South East: 01293 651841. Out of hours: 07966 527987
Midlands and West: 0116 274 7887. Out of hours: 07866 545257/ 07970 746272
Wales: 029 2026 7014. Out of hours: 07977 127064
Scotland: 0207 650 6767. Out of hours: 07760 2702021
Notes to editors:
This report is based on a detailed analysis of calls to ChildLine from April 2008 to March 2009. The full report can be downloaded from www.nspcc.org.uk/casenotes.
(1) ChildLine counselled 9924 lonely children from April 2008 to March 2009.
(2) Potentially identifying details have been changed to protect the identity of callers.
About the NSPCC:
The NSPCC runs services across the UK and the Channel Islands, including therapeutic services for young people who have experienced abuse, domestic violence projects and services for supporting families. Helpline services include the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 for adults with concerns about a young person and the ChildLine service on 08001111 for children and young people.
The Child's Voice Appeal:
The £24.3 million raised through the Child's Voice Appeal has enabled us to open new bases and recruit more staff and volunteers to help protect children. Since the Appeal launched last year, ChildLine has counselled over 1 million calls, helping children through their worries, and enabled live, online counselling through ChildLine.org.uk for the very first time. We are also developing the NSPCC's Helpline for adults with concerns about a young person, enabling us to help protect children who are too young or vulnerable to help themselves.